Sunday, 25 December 2016 05:06



It’s that time of the year when we ask industry leaders for their thoughts on what happened in 2016 and what they forsee will happen in the new year. Here’s Part 1.



Steve Hafner, CEO & Co-founder, KAYAK

Top 3 Things That Happened and That Mattered in 2016

1.  Rise of AI. It’s getting even tougher to be a travel startup or to afford innovation. You simply need too many developers, on too many platforms, with access to too much data, to make a difference.

2.  Ctrip buying Skyscanner. Now all of the big three OTAs have made their bets. It’s going to be fun to watch.

3.  My fiancee getting preggo again.

Top 3 predictions for 2017

1.  Expedia will buy more growth and OTA market share (probably Odigeo).

2.  TripAdvisor will start acting like it’s 1943 against Trivago. Now that Trivago is subject to the same public investor pressure as TripAdvisor, it’s a level playing field. I, for one, like Kaufer’s chances. They have great content on top of a great search engine, and an P&L that can sustain more marketing.

3.  Google will start intercepting branded search terms for their flight engine and hotel price ads. It’ll start slowly but will gain steam. Can you imagine how the travel industry will howl when HPA is above Marriott hotel results?




Hugo Burge, CEO, Momondo Group

3 Top Things That Happened and That Mattered in 2016

1.  The Populist Politics of Polarisation took a grip, as a reaction against local disenfranchisement.

2.  The UK voted for Brexit.

3.  Momondo group completed re-invention of business with final site launch in

3 Top Predictions for 2017

1.  Ongoing political uncertainty, ruptures and simmering tension.

2.  Digital payments re-inventing the way we purchase.

3.  To keep an open world, everyone will have to do their bit to keep fighting for it.



Timothy Hughes, Vice President Business Development, Agoda

3 Top Things That Happened and That Mattered in 2016

1.  Inventory is everywhere. Some of the big global players – Agoda, Booking, Airbnb – passed the 1mm properties live and bookable threshold (and climbing). You can truly book online for anywhere in the world.

2.  Google the OTA. Google has products that make them an OTA, even if they refuse to say it.

3.  A year to remember. 2016 will be remember like other big event years. Like 1989 for the fall of the Berlin Wall and 2001 for the 9/11 Attacks. We will remember and write for years about the events of 2016 – Brexit, Trump, Syria, Nice and more.

3 Top Predictions for 2017

1. “Losing Loads of Money” will stop being a business plan. With the IPO of Trivago and tightening in economic conditions we will see many of the Asian travel companies building a business off massive losses feel the pressure to move to the real world of sustainable, profitable, business models.

2. Direct and OTA will co-exist. Property owners will become more and more aware that direct and indirect (ie OTA) distribution are complementary not competitive channels.

3.  Chat rules, calls don’t. Chat will take a more prominent role in everything. We are not yet at “peak chat” – where chat completely kills voice. And 2017 wont be the year for “peak chat”. But it will be the year for some changes in customer behaviour (and that travel company products) driven by the accelerated use of chat.



Ken Mishima, VP Ecommerce Strategy, i.JTB

3 Top Things That Happened and That Mattered in 2016

1.   Online really matters. Any players connected to internet now concerning on online marketing & distribution. TripAdvisor moved to transactions while earning their most of revenue as medias which clients are OTAs and suppliers. Hotels and Airlines’ key strategy is direct distribution via online which pressured OTAs and any online community. At a local level, hitting nearly 40% online penetration in Japan and still growing. Online was discussed as ‘as part of’, but now it must be everyone’s core strategy.

2.   New opportunity matters. SG enjoyed their strategic injection of casino business with Suns group for some years which justified the new angle really matters to the industry if it was done well. Inbound into Japan developed the new market segment with strong traffic of over 20M PPL. Likely 24M PPL by the end of the year. To accommodate this demand for their stays, vacation rental can be the only hope to the market. Travel is the old fashion, but these new waves even push policy makers to think differently.

3.   Re-starting:  Consolidation

Growing stars or big players in segment were becoming the part of big ones. Meta, Hotels, OTAs, etc… Yet seeing the outcome of these games if it can be good for customers/partners, or providing more financial pressures to them with some returns.

3 Top Predictions for 2017

1.  Data, data, data management and analytics – to be ready for new user experience. Voice, Text/chatbot, graphic search. Also the form of new traffic or customer acquisition which can be unique to voice/chatbot etc – which does not match with conventional web marketing strategy and operation model.

2.  Partnership model with suppliers (from OTA/online distributor standpoints). Now we are living at the age of suppliers if their products are strong and unique. What would be the role of distributors – if they are not Expedia nor Priceline. What would be the new agenda for them to survive and grow?

3.  Any more new sharing model for travel? Home, building, space, car-ride, suitcase, and what else? Would it also become main stream of user experience?

Author:  WIT



World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.